A Recipe! Low Carb Creamy Chicken, Bacon, Feta, Leek & Asparagus Dinner

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Okay, I’m not going to lie- the picture above does NOT do justice to what I can assure you is delicious, filling low-carb dish! The lighting wasn’t great when I took this shot and I was not going to faff around trying to get a better picture and let my grub get cold. However, if you are looking for a lower-carb meal, or for something different to put with pasta/rice, then this is one for you. The added bonus of this is that you can also make it cow-dairy free, something that Adam and the children have to have now. We substituted double cream for Alpro soya cream (you really can’t tell the difference once cheese is mixed into the this dish), and used our trusty sheep-alternative, feta, as the cheesy ‘piece de resistance’.

You will need (serves 4):

  • 4 Chicken breasts or 8 thigh fillets (cut into bited-sized chunks)
  • 4 rashers of bacon, chopped into bits
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 200g crumbled feta
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 400ml Single or Soya cream

Instructions:

  1. Pan fry the chicken, bacon and leek in olive oil for about 5 minutes in a coverable skillet or pan, stirring regularly to prevent the leeks burning, until the chicken is nearly cooked and lightly coloured.
  2. Add the asparagus spears and 100ml water and cover on a low-medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover, and stir through the cream and feta cheese, for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately with a green salad, or on its own.

Linking up with Honest Mum and Tasty Tuesdays!

 

 

Eagle Heights

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Yesterday we ventured over the M25 into Kent and headed to Eagle Heights. I had never heard of it before, but Adam’s Mum suggested it, and I’m glad she did as we’ve been looking for new, slightly more local places to visit. I love hopping on the train the short ride into central London, but sometimes I feel I have to psyche myself up to do so with both children, especially if we’re out for the day, as we need to load up the buggy with so much stuff! Anyway, doing this sort of thing is a nice change, as we can just bung what we need in the car and off we go.

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^^Eagle Heights is home to a whole menagerie of animals and bird, and as the name suggests, a whole host of feathered friends of the sharp-beaked variety, plus a small playground, BBQ and cafe. Here are some more photos of our day out…

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^^I love escaping into the countryside. I think that’s why I love where we live so much. 20 minutes one way and we are in central London, and a half hour drive and we are looking at this beautiful Kent view. So good for the soul!

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^^Freddie spent much of the day racing about, and uncharacteristically wasn’t that bothered about viewing the birds or animals in their enclosures. He’s being a little ‘testing’ lately, and threw a few strops when we wouldn’t go where he wanted, when he wanted. Definitely finding the ‘Threenager’ stage a lot harder than the so-called terrible twos! I guess small people just like getting from their version of A-B as quickly as possible…

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^^This sign made me laugh, as the one and only camel at EH was miles away, behind 2 large fences, so in absolutely no danger of being touched!

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^^I probably sounded like a right weirdo, snapping away in the toilet, but each cubicle was covered in beautiful hand-painted murals, and they were definitely camera-worthy. They had other ones in the shop and cafe, and each one must have taken the artist AGES to complete. You know what they say about seeing the beauty in everything!

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^^I love this shot of Kayla the eagle landing on her perch. She’s the official Crystal Palace FC ‘Eagle’, and has appeared on a Kings of Leon album. Since we are fans of both of these in our house, it felt (a bit) like meeting a celeb!

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^^We sat and watched Kayla and several other birds of prey in a show. It was incredible, as they swooped right over our heads (F was a bit nervous at first!), but by the end they were loving it, and clapping and cheering!

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^^For someone who is a whirlwind and always on the go, moving from one thing to the next, I am always surprised at how well she sits to watch a show- long may it continue!

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^^^Aaah the map-source of many an argument as both F and S were both wannabe map readers!

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^^Not one of my best shots, but I love this old-skool ‘turtles and tortoise’ poster in the reptile house.

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^^Some more British countryside to end the day, just before the rain came. I think I may have jinxed the weather, as I have been telling friends that we’ve had such a great summer so far, that I would feel we’d had a good one if the sun ended tomorrow. BAD MOVE. With the rest of August looking dubious weather-wise, next time, I will shut my mouth!

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Mini Montessori: Rice Pouring & Pasta Threading

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Last week, I decided to get the pasta and string out for Freddie and Sasha so they could partake in some good old-fashioned pasta threading. Great for developing fine-motor skills, this is always a winner with my two, and really is great for improving concentration and patience.

I also must have lost my tiny mind, as I thought it would be a good idea to get a load of rice, two ‘bowls’ and a cup for scooping and pouring, and let both children pour and play with the rice. Believe me, this is one for the hardcore among you- I’ve been finding rice in all sorts of random places nearly a week on, it went EVERYWHERE!

From a Montessori perspective, pouring rice begins to open up a world of independence for your toddler. They start with trying to transfer and pour the rice from one vessel to another, and as they get better and better, less and less rice is spilled. Once they are confident with this, you can move on to practicing with a jug of water/juice, and pouring into bowls, and then progress to pouring from a jug into a drinking cup. Et voila- your little one can begin to pour their own drinks!

Both these activities bring out a sense of self-reliance, and if you lead by example, encourage neatness and cleaning up after themselves. Cleaning up with brooms and a dust pan and brush was just as much fun for my two!

I was surprised that the children sat down and played with the pasta and rice for a good 45 minutes. Sasha was entranced with the pouring of the rice back and forth, and took great pleasure in showing me what she was doing. I also find it fascinating how children can still use their imaginations with the most basic of materials. After a while Freddie stopped threading the pasta, and mixed some rice in with it and started creating a “rabbit mountain, where the rabbits live”, without any prompting at all!

A great activity rain or shine- even better if you can take it outdoors and save your house!

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Let kids be kids!

Garden Update- July 2014

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Good morning and happy Thursday!

Just a quickie garden update this month…

Well in July it was a month of blooming and perishing, depending on whether you were plant or mollusc.

Certain things have been thriving: Our tomato plants have gone nuts and are HUGE, with so many tomatoes just getting ready to ripen. We’ve grown them before in grow bags, but they really seem to have been liking the pots we moved them in to, a good watering, plus the plentiful sun in our south-facing garden. I can’t wait to pick and eat them in the many salads we’re having at the moment! The children are also very excited that a few are starting to turn red, and I think this sort of easy-to-see change is a great introduction to nature, growth and getting an idea where some of their food comes from. I love how Freddie is championing the toms, even though he professes to loathe the bloody things. With Sasha it’s the opposite- it’s all we can do to keep her away from them, and stop her eating them whilst green!

Our runner beans are also doing well, and we were joking last night that we can totally see how that Jack and the Beanstalk story came about. We’ve picked and eaten the first ones, and once again, F & S enjoyed the whole process very much. I’ve decided that growing and eating stuff is very therapeutic and satisfying, and I’m looking forward to doing more of it (roll on rhubarb planting this autumn!).

On the downside our garden seems to have turned into the snail equivalent of Magaluf this summer. Every snail in SE London seems to have flocked here for their holidays and a bit of a party, getting happy on certain plants. Horrified at the rapid demise of our other variety of runner beans, and of the Centaurea, us party-poopers  put a stop to all these jolly snail japes, and handed the slipperly suckers the snail-equivalent of a dodgy holiday cocktail (i.e. slug pellets). The next morning it was snail graveyard, and was amazing to see exactly which plants the snails favoured. There were LOADS of them, and collecting the deceased up with a trowel was a pretty grim half hour, but thankfully they haven’t made a strong return, and the damaged plants are beginning to recover.

In other garden news, the raspeberry plants are shooting up still, although we haven’t had much more fruit, and I suspect that’s probably it from them for this year. Which is fine- they’ve done their bit. As long as they carry on growing and thriving (and survive the winter) that’s good enough for me!

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Teaming up with Manneskjur and ‘How Does Your Garden Grow’!

The First Face Painting…

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Last weekend we went to a very ‘low key’ church fete, the sort that reminds me of my own childhood, complete with tombola, hook a duck, a bouncy castle, plus a slightly dubious Punch and Judy (Freddie is now slightly traumatised by the latter!).

Alongside these traditional summer-fair staples was a face painting stand.

Freddie has ALWAYS refused to have his face painted (how preschool coaxed him into having a plane painted on his face several months ago I will never know), but there was no stopping Sasha.

Following hot in the heels of my god-daughter, Ella (now a butterfly!), she couldn’t wait to tell the girl in charge that she wanted to be a “tiger, please”. I was so proud that at 2 years, 2 months, she managed to sit still (just!) so her face could be made into a mini work of art. She sat on my Mum’s lap like she’d had it done so many times before, a proper face painting pro!

It sounds silly, but just at that moment it really felt that we suddenly had a proper little girl, and not a baby, or even much of a toddler anymore. We had a full-on walking-talking-having-an-opinion-i-want-my-face-painted-like-a-tiger-please little lady. It gave me a glimpse into the not too distance future, and also scared me slightly, as although I know it sounds like a cliche, they really do grow up so fast!

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Linking up with ‘The Ordinary Moments’ at ‘Mummy, Daddy Me’ Blog!

Inspirational Station! Claire Chapman-Duffy, co-founder of ‘The Dip Society’

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As someone who has recently set up her own business, and is trying to juggle doing so with two small children, I am always fascinated by parents who have managed to go that bit further and do something a bit special. Whether it’s becoming super-successful with a business venture/career, managing a child/children with special needs, or thinking outside the box when it comes to parenting/lifestyle choices- I always want to hear their secrets!

In the first of an occasional series I have a chat with Claire Chapman-Duffy, one half of  fab foodie business ‘The Dip Society’. I first met Claire on my Broadcast Journalism course at Leeds University, where her talent for persuading people to try nibbly things with their wine started early- she was the person who actually made me like olives when we went out for dinner one night, and I am obviously forever grateful to her for this life-changing event! ;-)

A Mum of two boys now (Toby, 2.5 and Alastair, 5 months), Claire set up The Dip Society from her farmhouse kitchen in Lincolnshire, alongside her business partner,  Helen Boyle. Their delicious dips (such a ‘Sweetbeet’ and ‘Arti-Thyme’), are now stocked by Ocado, Booths, Selfridges and Whole Foods, among others- not too shabby!

I picked Claire’s brain about combining motherhood with running a business, and making that leap into the unknown…

1. How did your idea for The Dip Society come about? I met my business partner Helen at a wedding and we hit it off instantly, and then I invited her over for dinner with some friends. She started talking about food to my husband, he swapped seats with her and said “you need to speak to my wife”. She mentioned her idea for a dip company. I went to bed that night thinking, “that’s a great idea…”. I called her the next day and said, “I want to do it. If you don’t want to do it with me – I’m going to do it anyway!”. I think she was a bit surprised, but she came over and we agreed to start researching the market and putting together our business plan.

We had only met each other three times when we decided to set up ‘The Dip Society’, which may seem a bit quick, but that pretty much sums up what we are like and how we approach things- once we’ve made our mind up, we just go for it.

2. What’s the hardest thing about juggling a family with your own business? There’s not one specific thing, but there are definitely days when everything seems to kick off at the same time and it can be overwhelming. So probably the unpredictability of having such a young company and such a young family, you really do need to be prepared for anything. There are weeks when everything works brilliantly, and there are most definitely weeks when I just feel like I’m walking in quick sand.

3. Business highs? Meeting people who love our dips. Seeing our dips on the shelf for the first time. Being listed at Ocado, Selfridges, Wholefoods, Harvey Nichols. I love ‘The Dip Society’, so every day is a high, although some more than others. In general I feel very lucky to enjoy my work so much, and feel that we are really growing and getting where we want to be.

 4. Any low points? Difficult points for sure, especially starting a new food brand in a supermarket dominated sector. Its a very hard market, at times you get out of puff – but it doesn’t last very long. The challenge is what make it so exciting.

 5. What tips would you give to people looking to start their own business? Make sure you have support outside of the business, friends and family especially the people you live with really need to be supportive and on board. It (and you!)can be quite anti-social and hard work at times, life is so much easier when they are happy to support you. Whether it’s looking over spread sheets late at night, or getting up early on a weekend to help you get things organised. I also love the partnership I have with Helen, we work very well together and I love bouncing ideas around with her. I think if you’re looking to start a business with someone make sure its the right person by trusting your instinct, and if you’ve got any doubts, just don’t bother.

 6. Any advice when it comes to pitching to potential clients/stockists? Research the client, know how they work. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know something, and don’t agree to something you can’t deliver. Also just be honest and straightforward. Be yourself. It’s amazing how others relax when they realise you’re at ease, and it can really set the mood for a good meeting.

 7. Describe a typical day for you (if there is one!) I have to be quite structured and strict with how I work because of the children. I tend to work from 9.30 til 3 then again from 8 til 11. No day is the same in terms of content, but my hours are quite set around the nursery drop off and pick up and bed and bath routine. Quite often Sunday evenings are spent preparing for the week ahead. The only time you’re not really ‘on’ is when I am away on holiday, or have an event outside of work, otherwise my mind always wanders back to dips. The kids are a great leveller and really make me focus on what’s important. They don’t really care about anything other than themselves and that always puts work into perspective.

 8. What do you think the secret of your success is? I’m not successful as yet, I’m still getting there, where ever ‘there’ is, there’s lots more to learn, see and do. I think ‘The Dip Society’ is a great brand that’s fresh and fun, and really offers the customer a different product which is massively healthier. I feel happy in life and work, so if that’s what success is then I think the secret is to keep it simple. I think a lot of time is wasted with people wishing they could do things and not realising they really can do things. It’s definitely a big gear shift to make in your head, but once you decide to do something, just do it.

 9. What’s next for The Dip Society? We have lots of products lined up, and we are also expanding our team which is really exciting. The people who work with us are great, they’ve really been amazing in their roles and it would be great to get more people on board and really get ‘The Dip Society’ out there.

 Find out more about ‘The Dip Society’ www.thedipsociety.co.uk 

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